Attorney General James Announces $8 Million In Grants To Fund Affordable Housing

Grants to be awarded to Community Land Trusts that preserve affordable housing, manage assets, revitalize communities

NEW YORK -- Attorney General Letitia James today announced an $8 million expansion of the Community Land Trusts Capacity Building Initiative. New York municipalities and counties will be able to apply for funding to create or expand local Community Land Trusts (CLTs), which are nonprofit organizations dedicated to stewarding permanently affordable housing and community assets. Funding for the initiative comes from the Attorney General’s Office settlements with the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS to address the banks’ misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis. Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) is partnering with the Attorney General’s Office on this initiative.  

“The need for affordable housing is felt in communities throughout New York State,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Community Land Trusts create and preserve affordable housing and ensure the process is in the best interest of the communities they serve. Protecting communities and providing safe and affordable homes will always be a priority, and I am pleased we will continue to support countless families with this program.” 

Up to eight municipalities and counties will be selected to support CLTs in their region. Qualified CLTs are expected to be self-sustaining, focus on preserving the long-term physical and financial health of affordable housing or community assets, undertake meaningful community engagement including providing opportunities for local stewardship and ownership and demonstrate a strong commitment to serving primarily low-income residents while advancing racial and economic equity. 

The Community Land Trusts Capacity Building Initiative was established in 2017, when the Attorney General’s Office and Enterprise announced $3.5 million in grants to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the City of Albany, Suffolk County and Nassau County to support seven CLTs. With these grants CLTs were able to fund start-up costs, acquire and renovate distressed properties and provide training and technical assistance to homeowners. Enterprise also lead a learning collaborative for the CLTs to share best practices. 

The Community Land Trusts Capacity Building Initiative is administered by Enterprise which released a Request for Applications (RFA) today. Any municipality or county with existing or emerging CLTs are eligible to apply. Applications are due on April 1th, 2019 and awards are expected to be announced mid-May 2019. 

“Bringing vacant and abandoned homes back to life to create permanent affordable housing is a top priority for us in Nassau County,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “This funding announcement will be vital in building the capacity necessary to revitalize communities and make home ownership a reality for more of our low-income residents. I’m grateful for Attorney General James’ leadership on this critical matter.” 

“Bringing vacant buildings back to life and creating access to safe, affordable housing opportunities are top priorities for the City of Albany,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “This funding will further our efforts to improve the quality of life in Albany’s most distressed neighborhoods. I applaud Attorney General James for her continued commitment to revitalizing communities and ensuring all New Yorkers have access to safe and affordable housing.”  

“Through Housing New York we are continually seeking new tools and community-driven solutions to secure the affordability and stability of our city's neighborhoods,” said New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “Thanks to Attorney General James for providing new funding to expand the use of Community Land Trusts and help build the capacity of nonprofits and community based organizations that are so critical to keeping our city affordable today and far into the future.” 

“Community ownership of quality affordable housing has the power to keep homes affordable, strengthen neighborhoods, and stabilize households,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the New York State Office of the Attorney General for this second round of Community Land Trust grants, which will provide municipalities statewide with the tools to make their communities safer, healthier and more affordable for years to come.” 

“We thank and applaud Attorney General James for her support to Community Land Trusts and for making the creation and preservation of affordable housing a priority on Long Island and in New York State,” said Peter Elkowitz, President/CEO Long Island Housing Partnership, Inc.

“Habitat for Humanity New York City is thrilled at the Attorney General’s strong commitment to community land trusts,” said Karen Haycox, Chief Executive Officer, Habitat for Humanity, New York City. “This critical funding will support the construction and preservation of permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for families often shut out of the strength, stability and self-reliance that affordable home ownership provides. As co-founders of Interboro Community Land Trust, we look forward to deepening our relationship with the Attorney General’s office, and we laud her commitment to serving New York’s hard-working communities in more innovative ways.” 

"Community land trusts are one of the best strategies for stabilizing communities and making the most of public resources," said Christie Peale, Executive Director, Center for NYC Neighborhoods. "This commitment by the Office of the Attorney General and Enterprise Community Partners is a bold step towards creating permanently affordable housing that will withstand upheavals in the real estate market and shield low- and moderate-income families from displacement." 

“Community land trusts, and the Interboro CLT in particular, are a unique and powerful tool because CLTs have permanent affordability and stewardship built into their DNA,” said Andrew Reicher, Executive Director, UHAB. “Future generations of New York homeowners will benefit from the AG’s commitment to long lasting community controlled affordable housing.” 

“The funds from these programs are critical to allowing the Albany Community Land Trust to be able to acquire and rehabilitate vacant, deteriorated buildings for affordable rental and homeownership,” said Roger Markovics, Albany Community Land Trust Board Secretary. “We thank the Attorney General for prioritizing the success of Community Land Trusts and protecting affordable housing throughout the state.”  

“We were pleased to have received funding from the first round of grants provided by the Attorney General’s Office and Enterprise Community Partners, through the Nassau County Office of Housing and Development,” said  Paul E. Gibson, President of the Uniondale Community Land Trust. “The grant was instrumental in  rehabilitating a vacant property that, once completed, will provide new affordable homeownership opportunities to prospective purchasers in Uniondale. I applaud Attorney General James for continuing this program that will support countless families.”